Canada is a multi-cultural society. Many volunteer and government organizations hold functions to develop inter-community understanding. Under these programs, groups of students, teachers, and inter-faith members visit gurdwaras to get acquainted with the beliefs and religious practices of the Sikhs. They partake food in the langar along with the community members. It is a unique experience for the visitors.
Gurdwara management has to depute some English speaking Sikh to answer the queries of the visitors. Granthis and ragis find it difficult to communicate with such groups. During 1987, I used to teach Sikh heritage to the students at the Khalsa School, Vancouver. Therefore, I was deputed to talk to a group of teachers visiting the Ross Street gurdwara from different schools.
After listening to the universality of the Sikh principles and the Sikh prayer, “God, in Thy Name, bless the whole humanity,” all the members were very impressed. However, one person asked a very critical question, “You are wearing a dagger, a symbol of violence. If we pick up weapons and adopt eye for eye reaction, it will make the whole world blind.” From the way the question was put, it was obvious that the teacher belonged to a faith, which does not permit using arms under any circumstances.
I responded, “When I was a student in the school, we were told a phrase: If you want peace, be prepared for war. You too would have read it somewhere. We did not understand at that time how fighting can mean peace. Today, I can explain it to your satisfaction.
Assume someone with a gun enters this hall and shoots one of us, then another one . By attacking him, if I am able to stop him from shooting, I will save almost thirty live, check violence and bring back the peace.
The role of the police is clear to all of us here and it is recognized all over the world. Policemen carry guns, not for violence or bloodshed, but to stop violence and maintain peace. Nobody denies that guns are weapons of violence, but when in the hands of a policeman they become weapons for keeping peace. References from the Sikh history in 18th century were quoted to explain how the Sikhs protected the innocent from the invaders and government terrorism.
The visitors were so impressed that the discussion on Sikh heritage went longer than planned. The organizers got late for their next appointment. The group had to practically pushed on to the bus. A teacher held my arm and I was forced to move along with the group to the bus. Those who had taken their seats continued to ask me questions while the others were boarding the bus. This was a rare interest shown by non-Sikh teachers to know more about the Sikh heritage.
Many such cases had already occurred in North America. The incidents of such cases had increased since then to almost one every week.